Feeding the fight

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Josh Weaver
  • 434th Air Refueling Wing

Feeding Airmen helps fuel the mission at Grissom, but when one ingredient has the potential to shut down operations, the 434th Force Support Squadron decided to sprinkle in some extra precautions.

With more than 1.800 people traveling from 30 plus states to drill at Grissom, feeding those Airmen safely is vital -- especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We make sure that everyone wears gloves and masks at all times, in-between each task they are washing their hands and sanitizing all work stations,” said Tech. Sgt. Tiffany Staley, 434th Force Support Squadron dinning facility manager.

Along with the increased safety measures the DFAC staff is taking, they also opted for carry-out only during the unit training assembly, and dine-in during the week.

“Normally during a UTA we serve about 500 people in a two-hour period,” said Staley.” But, during the week we only serve about 50 making dine-in a safer bet.”

While the limited dine-in options have created a safer environment by not allowing too many people in the facility at one time, the DFAC staff has also taken measures to control the flow of traffic in the facility.

“We make sure that everyone is social distancing,” said Senior Master Sgt. Bakir Coulter, 434th Force Support Squadron senior services air reserve technician. “We only have one line open now so that we can make sure that people are not crossing each other.”

By only having one line instead of two, the staff had to get a little creative with their menu.

“We did have to minimize our menu a little bit, due to the pandemic making some products unavailable,” said Staley.” We used to have three entrees now we can only have two because we have to fit everything on one line instead of two.

In addition to all of the planning, sanitation and social distancing, the DFAC staff also had to consider the financial aspect of keeping the facility safe.

“We have increased our budget because where we normally have plates and silverware that we would just clean and wash to reuse, now we have gone to just paper products, along with more gloves and masks,” said Coulter.

Adapting to change is just the tip of the iceberg for the DFAC staff, being resilient is another important aspect that Coulter and her team have learned to embrace.

“I think 3-4 months in we’ve adjusted really well,” said Coulter. “We’ve been working on creating more of a family like atmosphere because this [pandemic] has created even more of a stressor than what people are normally experiencing,” said Coulter.

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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